Boston Red Sox' Jeff Bailey, center, receives congratulations from J.D. Drew (7) and Jason Varitek, right, after hitting a three-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning of a day-night doubleheader baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

After being the last man cut in spring training and starting the season in the minors, Jeff Bailey made a nice impression tonight in his return to Fenway Park as he hit a 3-run home run to help the Boston Red Sox to a 7-3 win over the Minnesota Twins to complete a 2-game sweep on Terry Francona’s 50th birthday.

It’s the 7th straight win for the Red Sox as they improve to 9-6 while the Twins fall to 7-9 after sweeping the Angels last weekend.

Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Brad Penny delivers to the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the second baseball game of a day-night doubleheader at Fenway Park in Boston on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)By his own admission, Brad Penny (2-0, 7.80) wasn’t great tonight but he was definitely a lot better than last Friday night’s debacle. Penny did his job by giving the Red Sox 6 innings of work, allowing 3 runs (2 earned) on 6 hits and a walk while striking out 2.

The Red Sox bullpen continued to shine as Ramon Ramirez, Hideki Okajima and Jonathan Papelbon each worked a hitless and scoreless inning with Okajima recording a strikeout.

Francisco Liriano’s struggles continued¬† for the Minnesota Twins. Liriano (0-4, 7.06) went 4 innings, giving up 7 runs on 4 hits and 4 walks while recording 6 strikeouts. Matt Guerrier, Luis Ayala and Jose Mijares combined to hold the Red Sox to one hit over the final 4 innings.

The Red Sox managed just 5 hits in the game with two of them coming off the bat of Nick Green (both were doubles). Bailey had one of the big hits knocking in 3 with home run while Big Papi continues to swing a hot piece of lumber with a double and 2 RBIs. Dustin Pedroia had the other hit for the Red Sox with an RBI and Jacoby Ellsbury added a RBI on a groundout.

Liriano shut down the Red Sox in the 1st inning but ran into the bat of Bailey in the 2nd.

Boston Red Sox' Jeff Bailey drops his bat after hitting a three-run home run against the Minnesota Twins during the second inning of a day-night doubleheader baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)He started the inning with a strikeout of Kevin Youkilis (3 K’s on the night) and then walked J.D. Drew. He struck out Jason Bay for the second out but then plunked Jason Varitek. Liriano left a meatball out over the plate and Bailey crushed that for a 3-run home run into the Green Monster seats.

Penny got some help from the defense in the 3rd inning when Brendan Harris lined into a double play after Denard Span had singled.

Ellsbury worked a walk to start the bottom of the 3rd and he went to third on a Pedroia double. Big Papi brought them both home with a wall-ball double to put the Red Sox up 5-0. With Youk at the plate, Papi went to third on a wild pitch by Liriano. Papi was left stranded there though as Youk  and Drew struck out, Bay walked and the Captain flew out to right.

The Canadian Crusher, Justin Morneau, led off the 4th with a blast to deep center to cut the lead to 5-1. Kubel followed with a ground rule double in almost the exact same spot. Penny got Michael Cuddyer to pop out but Brian Buscher reached on a Green error that allowed Kubel to score. Penny got out of any further trouble by getting Delmon Young to fly out and Jose Morales to ground out.

The Red Sox picked up their pitcher though as they got the runs back in the bottom half of the inning.

Liriano walked Bailey and Green followed with a double as Bailey stopped at third to say hi to DeMarlo Hale. Ellsbury brought in Bailey with a RBI groundout to the right side and Pedroia brought in Green with a sacrifice fly to provide the final margin of 7-2.

A very long day of baseball at the Fens today for the local nine but a very satisfying day with the two wins. The starting pitching today did their job keeping the bullpen use to a minimum and the bats continue get it done as well.

The Red Sox will be riding high when their rivals to the south, the New York Yankees, come into Fenway for a 3-game set that starts on Friday night at 7:15 PM. Jon Lester will start for the Red Sox and be opposed by Joba Chamberlain.

Will there be fireworks once again between Youk and Joba? We should know that before 7:30 PM on Friday night.

Notes and musings:

Minnesota Twins @ Boston Red Sox 4.22.09 Game 2 box score

Former Boston Red Sox player Dave Roberts is hugged by Red Sox manager Terry Francona after Roberts threw the ceremonial first pitch prior to the second game of a baseball day-night doubleheader against the Minnesota Twins at Fenway Park in Boston on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)Dave Roberts threw out the ceremonial first pitch tonight. He was supposed to do it last night as the Red Sox kicked off their Greatest Moments campaign.

Boston DH David Ortiz played parts of 6 Major League seasons with Minnesota (1997-2002) after he was acquired from Seattle in September 1996. Ortiz hit .266 (393-for-1477) with 58 homers and 238 RBI in 455 games.

Terry Francona is in his 6th season at the helm of the Red Sox, leading the club to a 479-346 record (.581) and two World Series titles. Francona is 10 wins shy of tying Bill Carrigan (489) for 3rd-most in franchise history and 21 wins shy of reaching the 500-plateau with Boston.

Red Sox on streaks:

  • Jacoby Ellsbury saw his 7-game hitting streak come to an end
  • Mike Lowell has a 7-game hitting streak
  • Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 6 games
  • Kevin Youkilis saw his hitting streak end at 4 and 14-game streak of reaching base end as well
  • Jason Varitek saw his hitting streak end at 3 games.
  • David Ortiz now has a 3-game hitting streak